The commission set up to determine what happened before and during the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — and recommend ways to prevent future similar attacks — approved its initial report on Wednesday and is sending it to Florida's governor and legislature.
The product of 16 meetings over eight months, the 446-page report goes into second-by-second detail of the Feb. 14 attack, which killed 17 students and staff at the Parkland school.
Among its recommendations:
- That the law that allows some school staff to be screened and trained to possess firearms on campus be expanded to include teachers as potential applicants.
- That classrooms include "hard corners," or safe places without furniture or obstructions where students can find refuge out of line of sight from a shooter who may be firing through doors or windows.
- That schools provide real-time surveillance camera access to law enforcement.
- That the ability to declare a "code red," initiating procedures to protect students from an active assailant, be given to more staff.
In assessing how a former student was able to carry a rifle onto campus and kill so many people, the commission spread the blame around. It faulted school staff and law enforcement, especially the one Broward sheriff's deputy on campus at the time, a school resource officer who the commission noted took cover for more than 40 minutes as students and staff were shot or bleeding.
The commission was established by the legislature amid a flurry of lawmaking in the wake of the attack.
Its members include people with experience in law enforcement, education and mental health, as well as two fathers of students slain that day.
The report begins with profiles and photographs of the 17 people who died, poems from two of the student victims and a preface that begins:
School safety in Florida needs to be improved. We can do more and we can do a better job of ensuring the safety of students and staff on K-12 school campuses. Not all school security changes or enhancements have financial costs, and some only require the will of decision-makers to effect change and hold people responsible for implementing best practices. Safety and security accountability is lacking in schools, and that accountability is paramount for effective change if we expect a different result in the future than what occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSDHS) on February 14, 2018.
Beyond blaming Cruz’s individual actions, the commission delves into other causes, including “Cruz’s mental and behavioral health issues, people not reporting warning signs or reporting signs that were not acted on by those to whom actionable information was reported, and how Cruz’s behavioral and discipline issues were addressed (or not addressed) by Broward County Public Schools. Also contributing, was the overall lack of adequate or effective physical site security and unenforced or non-existent security measures and policies at MSDHS, as well as the ineffective behavioral threat assessment process at MSDHS. Further contributing was the unsatisfactory law enforcement response, which includes the flawed City of Parkland 911 system and the flawed and failed Broward County law enforcement radio system. The Broward Sheriff’s Office’s inadequate active assailant response policy, the abysmal response by the school’s SRO, a failed response by some law enforcement officers and supervisors and BSO’s flawed unified command and control of the scene were also identified as areas that need to be addressed.